Divers Bucket List: The Green Turtle
Green turtles are one of my favourite things to encounter on a dive. I have had the privilege of diving with green turtles on a few occasions. These are dives that I will never forget. The green turtle is inquisitive and usually they appear ‘out of the blue’, swimming directly towards you to investigate what the weird bubbling creatures are that have entered their habitat. They seem to have a fascination with the bubbles being produced by the divers, weaving in and out playfully.
Why is it called a ‘green’ turtle?
The 'green' in green turtle is not reference to the turtles shell but actually comes from the greenish colour of their cartilage and fat. The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and they are also the only herbivore among the different species. There is also a group of green turtles that have darker shells that are referred to as 'black turtles' by the local community in the Eastern Pacific.
Where can I find them?
Green sea turtles can be found in warm subtropical and tropical ocean waters and nest in over 80 countries across the globe. The Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans all host populations of green turtle with different colouring's and markings. They migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched which is common for sea turtles. Most sea turtles warm themselves by swimming close to the surface of shallow waters. This means that you can quite often see turtles when snorkelling in the right locations.
How big is a green turtle?
When born, green sea turtles are only 5 cm long but they can grow up to 1.5 meters in length and can weigh over 300 kg. This makes the green turtle one of the largest of all hardshell sea turtles.
What do green turtles eat?
Green turtles graze on algae and seagrasses. They maintain the seagrass beds which makes them more productive (much like cutting your grass to keep it healthy). Seagrass digested by the green turtles becomes available as recycled nutrients. This provides essential nutrients to the seagrass ecosystem and the many species of animals and plants that live there.
Do female green turtles really return to their place of birth to lay their eggs?
Yes! Green turtles reach sexual maturity between 20 and 50 years old. They migrate long distances from their feeding sites to their nesting grounds. The nesting ground for females is the beach where they were born. During the late spring/early summer, male green sea turtles arrive first at the breeding grounds. The males congregate in the shallow waters close to the beach where the females lay their eggs, waiting patiently for the females to come. While males are capable of mating every year, females only mate every two to four years.
Before laying their eggs, the females dig a pit in the sand with their flippers. They fill the pit with their clutch of 100 to 200 eggs, cover the pit and return to the sea. The eggs hatch after about two months. The hatchlings have to out run an array of predators as they make their way into the sea. If they can survive this, and all other life-threatening hazards as infants, green sea turtles can live 80 to 100 years.
Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.
Time to dive!
Diving with green turtles really is amazing. If this isn’t already on your bucket list then get it on there and follow the link below to our trips page! Scuba Leeds organise trips all over the world to allow you to get these bucket list items ticked off. What are you waiting for? There is a green turtle waiting in some warm crystal-clear water just for you!
Scuba Leeds Dive Trips